From Gallipolis, Ohio and the Ohio Valley Symphony: “Songs of Rural America: The Symphony Concert” – Saturday, April 3 at 11 pm

Posted on:

< < Back to

* Text Below Courtesy of the Ariel Opera House, Gallipolis, Ohio.  For more information about the Ariel Opera House, click here.

Among the throngs of musicians in the folk world, few have elevated “dreaming” to such a high art form as Michael Johnathon. From composing the Woody Guthrie Opera to writing the Walden play, creating the national Song Farmers movement to producing the wildly successful broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, solo concert tours of coffeehouses to recording his song The Dream about the earth at piece with a 61-piece orchestra and choirs in English, French, Spanish and Russian, his accomplishments can easily overshadow a very important point: Michael Johnathon is an excellent musician.

“Once upon a time, rural America was built on the music and conversation of families who relaxed at the end of the day playing music on their front porches,” says Johnathon from his log cabin home in Kentucky. “The front porch was the grand pulpit of every community, the gathering place for family, friends and neighbors. It was the greatest stage in the world, filled with musicians every evening singing together as the sun went down.”

He is quick to point out that America, as a community, has lost its sense of its own front porch.

“As soon as they invented TV and air conditioning, everybody fled inside,” he says. “They don’t even build front porches on new homes any more. For the past 50 years, the great feng shui welcome of a new home was the garage door. The thing you leave by is what welcomes your friends.”

The concept behind this concert was to bring a sense of America’s front porch spirit onto classical orchestra stages nationwide. The concert at the historic Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, Ohio in October 2018 was the world premiere of the tour.

“I thought to myself, ‘How hard can it be for a folksinger to perform with classical musicians?’” he explains. “Well, it’s pretty hard.” Johnathon arranged the orchestration with Joshua Carter of Nashville TN, who works with Ben Folds and others to his credits. The concert was be conducted by Maestro Tim Berens.

The audience can expect a very surprising, rich and powerful selection of songs that will represent the passion and importance of the “front porch” spirit, once taken for granted across rural America.

“I’ll be there with my long neck banjo, my Martin guitar and about 40 new friends who are amazing classical musicians, engineers and six TV cameras,” says Johnathon. “I can’t tell you how exciting this will be.”